How Facebook Seeded Their New Questions Product

Facebook has taken an interesting model to adding people to the Questions application: having users apply to the beta test. This morning we received an email with a link to this page which appears to be a user application for participating in the beta of Facebook Questions. What’s interesting is that Facebook expects the product to be as successful as Facebook Photos and Facebook Events, two of the most engaging applications on the site.

Just yesterday we suggested that Facebook was using the product as a way to rapidly increase engagement on the site. It appears as though the application process is an attempt to seed the product with valuable questions and answers. While this is the first time that we’ve hear about an application process, this doesn’t appear to be the worst way to get people into the program. Just as Quora, the hot questions startup, has been built on a community of valuable contributors, Facebook appears to be aiming for a relatively similar subset of their close to 500 million user community.

When this beta phase was made available we’re not quite sure, but here’s what the application page states:

As a beta tester, your job will be to ask great questions and provide great answers about your favorite topics. Economics? Skydiving? Relationships? Mexican Restaurants? It’s up to you. You’ll be the first person outside of Facebook to use this product. Your expert writing will be seen by tens of millions of people – including job recruiters. And we’ll bring our best beta testers out to California to tour Facebook headquarters and meet the team.

While many have already dismissed the product as a Quora killer, even Blake Ross who developed the application, we think it’s too early to do so. Some, including Techcrunch, have suggested that the product is not a Quora killer because of the quality of the questions, however we don’t think it’s fair make a statement like this so early.

Every entrepreneur in Silicon Valley likes to tell their competitor that they “aren’t competitors”, but once we’re slaving away at the computer, we all know that concerns over friends who are competing with us are thrown out the window. Ultimately, we all just want to build quality products, and may the best product win! Ultimately, we doubt Facebook is using this form any longer to see their Questions product since numerous users have already sent in screenshots to various blogs, stating that they’ve had access to the product for months.

It’s definitely interesting to see that Facebook focused on getting quality contributors to the product prior to completing a site-wide rollout though.

Thanks to Miles Kaye for the tip.